- International Women’s Day 2014 – Inspiring Change
- A visit to Malawi provides a stark reminder of why our work is needed
- Our Radio 4 Appeal update – a big thank you
- Each year 1 million babies die on their first day of life according to a new report by Save the Children. Ros Davies presents Women and Children First’s response to the report’s findings.
- Jo Dawson tells us why she is running the 2014 London marathon for Women and Children First – would you like to join her?
- Scaling the heights of Kilimanjaro to save mums and babies
7 March 2014
International Women’s Day has been celebrated on 8 March every year since 1911. Through the years the Day has highlighted a range of topics which are important to women – freedom from violence, uniting for peace and empowering rural women to end hunger and poverty are just three examples.
A womens group
We wholly supports this year’s theme – Inspiring Change – which calls for everyone to challenge the status quo, promote women's equality and inspire positive change.
Recent decades have seen improvements in women’s lives. Policy makers know that their countries will not thrive if women do not benefit from education, productive work and access to good healthcare. In many countries laws have been introduced to recognise women's equality under the law and to protect their safety both in and out of the home. The Millennium Development Goals, which aim to reduce poverty by half by 2015, have helped bring about significant improvements in many aspects of women’s lives.
But maternal death rates remain stubbornly high in many of the poorest countries. This is unacceptable, particularly as the majority of these deaths are preventable.
7 March 2014
Mikey Rosato, our Senior Programmes Manager, has recently returned from a visit to Malawi. He talks about the progress that we are making there, but leaves with a very stark reminder of the work that is still to be done.
Malawi has some of the worst statistics when it comes to women and children dying during pregnancy, childbirth and in the first month of life. Three in every 10 babies die before they reach one month of age. Furthermore, 675 mothers die for every 100,000 babies born. This translates to each Malawian woman, in her lifetime, having a one in 26 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth – mainly from conditions that are entirely preventable.
Local women are well aware of this fact. Violet Ntebe, who is pregnant with her fourth child, describes pregnancy as like “having one foot in the grave.”
In early February, I visited the Perinatal Care Project (PCP) in Ntcheu District. We have been working with PCP since 2005 and our current project, funded by Comic Relief, reaches approximately 100,000 people from 144 villages in remote areas of the district.
Each year 1 million babies die on their first day of life according to a new report by Save the Children. Ros Davies presents Women and Children First’s response to the report’s findings.
25th February 2014
Today Save the Children publishes their Ending Newborn Deaths report. We applaud Save the Children’s campaign to draw attention to the fact that one million babies every year die on their first day of life. We support their call for a Newborn Promise so that world leaders, philanthropists and the private sector commit to ending all preventable newborn deaths this year.
In fact there is much in the report that we would agree with.
· Two million babies could be saved each year if we end the preventable conditions from which these babies die.
· Improving health services and the shortage of doctors, nurses and midwives is vital – and having a better distribution of health services, spread more equitably between rural and urban communities is important if we are going to stop mums and babies dying.
However, we feel that the report misses an important point by not putting enough emphasis on sharing knowledge in local communities. When this happens more women (with help from men where appropriate) know how to stay healthy during pregnancy, when to ask for help, what to do in an emergency and where to get help. Without these important building blocks there is the danger that women do not use the health facilities available to them or are prevented from doing so by their husbands and families.
Our work, while supporting the improved services and facilities called for by Save the Children, focuses on this point – sharing information in local communities. Our model of women’s self-help groups facilitated by women trained in basic nutrition and midwifery skills, has shown to reduce newborn mortality by more than 30% in poor rural communities in Asia and Africa in countries with some of the highest newborn mortality rates. Together with our partners, we have saved over 5,000 maternal and newborn lives a year through the women’s groups approach.
Our women’s groups raise awareness and empower women to look after themselves properly during pregnancy and childbirth and, very importantly, provide them with the vital knowledge they need to ensure the survival of their newborn baby.
While medical intervention is vital in an emergency, the majority of newborn deaths are preventable by simple, low cost means – e.g. clean cord care, keeping the baby warm, immediate and exclusive breastfeeding, recognising the danger signs for infection.
The Ending Newborn Deaths report says that 51% of births in sub-Saharan Africa and 41% in South-East Asia were not attended by a midwife or properly qualified health worker. Our groups ensure women get proper care during pregnancy and childbirth. This makes a real difference. The women are more likely to:
· Receive skilled care during pregnancy and go to at least four antenatal visits and a postnatal check-up within 24 hours of birth, the care levels recommended by the World Health Organisation. This helps make sure that the mother has a healthy pregnancy and any problems for either mother or baby are attended to promptly.
· Be overseen by a skilled birth attendant – a midwife or doctor – rather than giving birth at home alone or with a traditional birth attendant with no medical qualifications. This helps ensure a healthy delivery for both mother and baby. Women’s groups can help the women get to clinic to give birth through, for example, lending either the family the money to take the women to hospital or the community to buy a bicycle ambulance.
· Be aware of how important it is for pregnant women to eat adequate, nutritious foods and not be governed by harmful traditional practices which are unhealthy for themselves and their babies – for example not eating much during pregnancy to ensure the baby is small and easier to deliver, putting cow dung on the newborn’s umbilical cord, or feeding the baby cow’s milk for several days because the nutritious colostrum is seen to be dirty.
Our women’s groups deliver these messages as well as others including the use of modern contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy, the value of spaced births, preventing mother to child infection of HIV, and the importance of immunisation for their babies and young children.
Please help us to stop mums and babies dying. With your support we can do this NOW.
· £50 can pay to train a women’s group facilitator in Uganda
· £30 can pay for six mums to attend one of our groups in Malawi for a year
· £15 can pay for a loan to get a mum in India to hospital
· £5 can pay for one woman to attend a group in Ethiopia for a year
It’s six weeks after our Radio 4 appeal was transmitted and we’ve counted up the donations we received. Thank you very much to all of you who contributed.
We have had some new people come to our charity and donate to help save the lives of mums and their babies, which is very exciting. We were also overwhelmed by the support from our existing donors – including one extremely generous donation of £500. We even had a church donate their Christmas collections to our Appeal, raising £200. All helping raise our total of £9345.85
So new or existing, thank you to everyone who contributed – whatever you gave will go to helping us save more mothers from dying from preventable conditions while pregnant and giving birth.
One of the brilliant things about our work is that all donations – large and small – really can make very tangible differences. If you’ve not already seen it then please do watch this short video where you can listen to the stories of some of the mothers we have helped in Bangladesh. You’ll hear from Jyosna (she’s the first woman who’s story you hear) who’s life, and that of her son Nurani, was saved by a loan worth just £15.
So whatever you gave - £5, £15, £30, £50, £100 or £500 – really will help us help more women like Jyosna and babies like Nurani.
£9345.85 is 623 £15 loans. It’s enough to pay for 1,869 women to attend one of our existing self-help groups where she will learn how to keep herself safe during pregnancy and her baby safe once he or she is born. Or it’s enough to set up a whole new women’s self help group in Malawi, Bangladesh or Uganda.
From the bottom of our hearts on behalf of the women and partners we work with – thank you for putting women and children first.
Jo Dawson tells us why she is running the 2014 London marathon for Women and Children First – would you like to join her?
“I am running the Marathon with my skin and blister (aka sister). Yep all 26 miles of it.
I am running for Women and Children First - a charity very close to our hearts.
“Just over two years ago when Jen was giving birth to my adorable niece Aria, she faced life threatening complications. However due to a team of amazing midwives, surgeons and doctors and the amazing people who give blood, she survived. It was a horrible, horrible time of us as a family and one that was only made OK due to the medical team available to Jen at that time.
“I only found out recently how common this is in childbirth and that any women can be faced with such a trauma. This is why I am running the marathon for Women and Children First.”
This is why Jo is running the London Virgin marathon on 13 April with her sister Jennifer. They are joined by Sam and Harrison. All of them have powerful, personal reasons for wanting to raise money to help mums and babies in some of the world’s poorest communities survive pregnancy and childbirth.
- Scaling the heights of Kilimanjaro to save mums and babies
- New funding to help stop mums and babies dying from HIV and Aids
- Women and Children First is this week’s Radio 4 appeal
- Positive change in Malawi
- It’s Official - Kathy Lette to be the voice of Women and Children First’s BBC Radio 4 Appeal
- Women talk to save lives
- Every child a wanted child – contraception ensures healthy mums and babies
- The Millennium Development Goals, just two years to go
- Why it's so Important to Raise Funds for Women and Children First
- Exciting new work in Ntcheu
Our Radio 4 Appeal update – a big thank you
Thank you very much to all of you who contributed to help us raise our total of £9,345.85.
Please do watch this short video where you can listen to the stories of some of the mothers we have helped in Bangladesh.
You’ll hear from Jyosna who’s life, and that of her son Nurani, was saved by a loan worth just £15.